Vapor over Mt. Royal

Montreal, October 2015. I did a week long walkabout, camera in tow. In hindsight, it was an idlers holiday… a flaneur gallivant in a different neighborhood, each day.

Montreal is a fine city for a brief sojourn. Metro public transportation, modeled on Paris’, is amenable to leisure, if not actively encouraging it. Nonetheless, most residents or workday occupants briskly walk to their next destination. Few ramble.

Among those who do take their time, vaping was common. A familiar sight it was, to see plumes floating overhead a horde of pedestrians. Unfortunately, I did not see many idlers. Sad is the thought that Montreal, like most cities, has gone in for laws against “loitering”, or mastery of your own time. Perhaps the local puff-giver is simply another commuter who longs for a daydream, and vaping slows down time, at least perceptibly, or offers soothing relief, if only temporary, from the anxieties of urban toil.

Anyway, it was common, and so “while in Rome”, I partook. There was a reassuring essence in it, but nerve prickly, too, as if the rebellious act of a single exhale was paradoxically street survival tool and risked unwanted attention. Benefits of the former must outweigh the cons of the latter, or I doubt it would’ve caught on. To me, it was a means to be idle, while in motion.

I miss smoking. Not tobacco, which would be an unwise choice for me now. And not vape, as I did not care for it. But cannabis, yes, I do miss it. Particularly during its underground days, when etiquette mattered. Social circles, interacting with social purpose, was its underlying culture. Civil disobedience and petty outlaws, was the romance.

Mostly, I miss the art of the smoke. Rolling my own, usually poorly, to choosing an artisan pipe and then toking my time. Being with friends old and new, having a good laugh, and watching smoke drift into unpredictable patterns. Music, food. Art. Conversation. No wonder industrial-capitalists and their agents disapprove, unless taxed, of course, and “productive”.

Soft Focus on Shallow Depth

rhododendron blooms
Rhododendron blooms. Darkroom print. Silberra 25 film.

Sometimes it feels as if I have a fighting spirit, with no justified cause. What justified cause there may be now, involves staying home. And gardening. Wasting less. Producing, consuming, and investing with conscience. Nurturing.

Problem being that I was not raised to nurture. Schooling and competitive culture both channeled into a loop of run, hunt, and exploit.

Nurturing seems right, especially now, but feels unsettling. How do I fight by doing less or nothing, and if active, no harm? On a superficial plane, I get it. But I don’t know how to be this way.

This is why I take one day each week, as a Secular Sabbath Day. I read theology, philosophy, sacred texts. Myths, and natural origins. I’m trying to learn how to be nurturing and adaptive.

Rationalism doesn’t quite fit. This could be ineffable. So, faith? I don’t know. My ignorance is a ghost, that I had better learn to accept and be friendly with.


coffee vendor sits in his van waiting for customers

Coffee vendor waits for customers. Morioka-shi, Iwate, Japan. Nikon FE2 and Silberra 50 Orta black and white film. November 2019.

Devotion to craft and service. Making a lot out of small spaces. Do one or a few simple things right. There is much to learn from how small business makes its way in Japan.